Make Time for “The 24-Hour Customer”

24 Hour CustomerThe other day I was chatting with a friend.  It didn’t take too long for the conversation to turn to time and our general lack of it.  “I don’t know where the day goes.” She said.  Later that day, I logged into Facebook and found out exactly where her day went — Farmville.

If our time is so precious, I wondered, how is it that some companies and brands do such a great job of grabbing so much of our time?

The answer to that question can be found in “The 24-Hour Customer: New Rules for Winning in a Time-Starved, Always-Connected Economy.”  This is a smart book written by a smart woman, Adrian C. Ott.  Adrian is probably the most respected strategists in Silicon Valley.  She’s worked with some of the most innovative Fortune 500 companies and helped them get a market edge by digging deeper into consumer behavior than anyone has thought to do.  And this time, she’s taken her insights and shared them with the rest of us.

Why I Recommend This Book

  • It’s a game-changer: You’re not competing with companies – you’re competing for TIME! From the time you finish reading this book, you will never, ever again look at developing a new offer without considering “time” as a feature or component.
  • You’ll get examples of how companies used “time” as leverage to gain increase share of customers’ time. Zipcar used a “Time Slicing” strategy that broke up car ownership into much smaller slices of time instead of years. Hulu and Netflix used time-shifting to movies on-demand. Nike and Apple co-created a mobile app that measured and reported on a runner’s progress on a Nike+ website.  There are many more examples to inspire you.
  • Backed by research. There are over 15 pages of research notes and references in the back of the book.  That alone should tell you that these insights have been studied and measured and aren’t just anecdotal.
  • There is a model and you’ll learn to use it. You’ll learn all about the Time-Ographics framework which will help you map where your product fits inside this new framework of how customers react to and prioritize time.

The Time-Ographics Framework Is The Backbone of This Book

This book is essentially broken down into three main sections: the first few chapters will give you context.  They will explain  some basic research and lay out the market landscape as it relates to competition and time.  For example:

  • “Only 42% of Americans report that they enjoy buying goods and services …. 48% describes shopping as ‘just something they do’.”
  • “Americans spend about 28% of their time in the act of shopping.”

Ott uses a variety of research studies (hers and other reputable organizations) to show us how there are exponentially more products and services competing for a static slice of our time.

The next section of chapters are devoted to explaining the Time-Ographics Framework and its quadrants in detail.  The Time-ographics Framework is a great perceptual map that will allow you to see your product or service from the perspective of the customers’ likelihood to spend time in relation to his propensity to pay attention.  The model contains four quadrants: Convenience, Motivation, Value and Habit, as the following graphic from the book shows:

24 Hour Customer Framework

There are sections and chapters devoted to explaining each of these quadrants in detail.  The key to this book is how much focus there is on the customer and how they spend their time, so that you can identify what Ott calls “White Space” opportunities that will allow you to insinuate yourself into the customers’ world.

For example,  if the customer isn’t paying attention to your offer, your natural tendency may be to just DO MORE, more advertising, louder messaging, more offers.  The Time-Ographics model focuses you on the following broad strategies:

–          Increase time value (or decrease time cost)

–          Redefine time use

–          Shift the purchase and consumption flow

Don’t freak out if you’re not getting it right away.  Each page, each section and each chapter is absolutely hard packed with insight and information that will have you stopped and thinking about how you’re going to apply each new concept about every other sentence.   There is no sense in rushing through this book.  Give yourself lots of time to read, process and apply what you learn.

My favorite feature in the book is the “Two-Minute Takeaway” at the end of each chapter.   Ott summarizes all the most important points in each chapter so that you can quickly come back and review and be sure to understand the concepts.

Why You Should Read This Book

When I received this review copy from the publisher, I thought it was going to be about the 24-hour selling cycle. But, the concepts in this book opened up a whole new dimension and universe of product development opportunities for me. I expect they will do the same for you too.

Read this book because it’s business and market planning time.  You can’t afford to go into the next year without understanding how powerfully time can impact whether your product gets chosen or not.

Ivana Taylor Ivana Taylor is the Book Editor for Small Business Trends. She is responsible for directing the site’s book review program and manages the team of professional book reviewers. She also spearheads the annual Small Business Book Awards. Ivana publishes DIYMarketers, where she shares daily do-it-yourself marketing tips, and is co-author of "Excel for Marketing Managers."